Thursday, 05 October 2023

Royal Association of Justices of South Australia 125th Anniversary Reception

As your Patron, I am delighted to welcome you all to Government House to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Royal Association of Justices of South Australia.

Congratulations on reaching such a significant milestone.

We are honoured to have several long-standing members of the Association here. In particular I welcome Reginald Palmer, who is currently the longest serving member, having joined in 1956. Mr Palmer is still active as a JP and is also a volunteer in the Attorney General’s Department in JP Services.


It is perhaps a truism to note that justice dispensed through the legal system is one of the most important foundations of our society.

In its modern manifestation, justice is administered by an independent judiciary based on laws passed by the legislature in the name of the Crown.

As we gather here in this ballroom, we have many connections with the deep and intertwined history of these institutions, notably the Royal connection, surrounded as we are with the visual symbols of our Constitutional Monarchy.

As you would be aware, the title of Justice of the Peace goes back to 1361 during the reign of King Edward III, making the office one of the oldest in the English common law system.

The rich history can be traced even further back, as far as 1195, when Richard the Lionheart commissioned certain knights to preserve the peace in unruly areas. They were known as Keepers of the Peace.

The Justices Association assumed practical shape in 1898 at a meeting of justices in the Town Hall presided over by the then Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Mr Chas Tucker MP, and I acknowledge the presence here today of the current Lord Mayor.

The Association’s formal inauguration was at the Town Hall the following year, where the Chief Justice, the Right Hon Sir Samuel Way, gave an oration to declare the Association duly constituted, having observed the conscientiousness and intelligence with which the duties of Justices of the Peace were regularly discharged.

In his reportedly lengthy speech, the Chief Justice expressed his hope that the new association would, and I quote in part: “tend to a still more satisfactory administration of justice in South Australia by setting its members higher ideals, thus inspiring a deeper sense of responsibility, and promoting knowledge and efficiency”.

I am sure you will attest, as do I, that he has been proven right, although my speech tonight is much shorter, but no less sincere.

While the role of the Justice of the Peace has evolved over the centuries, a commitment to duty, service and integrity has remained steadfast.

Over 125 years, tens of thousands of JPs have been supported by the Royal Society of Justices SA, including some 2,200 JPs currently performing their honorary roles in the community.

I thank the Association for its dedication in providing continuous professional development to its members and other serving JPs so they can maintain the honour of their appointment, by acting independently and objectively.

The role of the Justice of the Peace has many touchstones in the lives of people: certifying copies of birth, death, and marriage certificates, certifying identity documents, and witnessing statutory declarations among many other tasks.

Because of this, the office has an important role in upholding process and integrity. It is all the more admirable that it is done voluntarily and with diligence.

I saw that personally in the service of my late father, Ian Adamson.

I congratulate the members of the association past and present who have dedicated significant time and energy to roles within the Royal Association of Justices of South Australia in supporting JPs in their tasks.

You are all part of the continuum of dedicated service and commitment. Long may it endure.

I wish the Association well for the next 125 years and beyond.

Coming events